The Chamber > Advocacy > Military Presence > Overview
McConnell Air Force Base
Wichita is home to McConnell Air Force Base, the largest KC-135 Stratotanker base in the world. In 2015, McConnell was chosen by the Pentagon to be the first Main Operating Base (MOB) for the new KC-46 “Pegasus.” The first Pegasus refuelers are scheduled to begin arriving at McConnell late in 2017. The KC-46 will afford combatant commanders extended refueling capabilities and improved global reach, and will enable timely joint-service response to humanitarian crises and contingency operations around the world. The US Air Force, joint and coalition partners depend on fuel from McConnell’s tankers 24/7/365 all around the world.
Honorary Commander Program
The Honorary Program is designed to provide an interactive learning experience that increases public awareness and understanding of the U.S. Air Force, its mission, policies and programs, by affording influential civilians the opportunity to get an up-close and personal look at McConnell and the USAF. In the program, civic leaders are paired with a McConnell AFB commander and invited to participate in a variety of activities held on base. The civilian “commanders” are encouraged to invite their Air Force commanders to share in some of their business activities as well. The program works best when the relationship between the commanders is a two-way street.
Graduates from the Honorary Commander program become part of an ongoing alumni organization of Honorary Commanders and are welcome to continue their participation in base activities. In addition, McConnell has inducted five local citizens, all long-time base supporters, into the Golden Eagle rank.
Friends of McConnell
The Friends of McConnell (FOM) is a civilian support organization affiliated with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. Comprised of a select group of area individuals and business leaders, the organization is dedicated to providing a meaningful social and economic linkage between senior military leaders and their metropolitan civilian counterparts. Follow the FOM on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the group's activities.
The Friends of McConnell expresses community pride in and appreciation of area military by providing organizational and financial support for Commander directed programs and strives to make McConnell the most appreciated assignment in a McConnell airman/officer’s Air Force career. Annual memberships in the Friends of McConnell range from $500 to $5,000 and are available for both individual and corporate members. Special rates are available for retired military and business members.
A new U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the USS Wichita, was christened and launched in Marinette, WI, in September 2016. The Wichita will be undergoing sea trials for the first several months of 2017 and is expected to be commissioned in 2018 at an east coast seaport.
The vessel’s crest is pictured at right and displays familiar city and state symbols. Elements of the Wichita flag are recognized in the red and white rays and Indian sun symbol meaning 'home'. A buffalo skull symbolizes the Wichita Indians, wheat stalks represent the main crop of Kansas and its residents, and feathers pay tribute to Wichita’s Native American heritage. The ship’s motto, “KEEPER OF THE SEAS,” honors Wichita's iconic Keeper of the Plains sculpture.
Just outside the gates of McConnell Air Force Base sits the U.S. Army Reserve 451st Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC), a general officer command established in 2011. As an operational command post, the 451st ESC is responsible for planning, coordinating, synchronizing, monitoring and controlling operational-level sustainment operations in support of Army service Component Commands, Joint Task Forces and Joint Forces Commands during a deployment. Units like the 451st provide all of the sustainment and life services to get the needed fuel, ammunition, food and supplies to keep the soldiers engaged in their operations.
For additional details regarding Wichita’s military, please contact Pat Gallagher.